When we talk about the combination of email marketing and social media, we often think of sharing tools, redirecting to peer reviews, viral and referral marketing through email, email as a conversation, etc.

But there is a lot more to it than just technology, integration, and viral spread. One of the core elements of social media marketing and really any digital marketing is engagement: the engaging and involving of the “other” in the story of your brand and your company.

Relevance and engagement in the age of abundance

That’s exactly where one of the most important challenges lies for email marketers. Whoever talks about engagement must include the topic of relevance and value for the recipient.

People’s mailboxes are on the verge of bursting, there are more and more communication channels, and the amount of advertisements is increasing by the minute. The abundance of communication channels is a blessing for the people who we want to reach as marketers, since it allows them to communicate in different ways with other people as well as with us, businesses.

Of course, it’s a tougher situation for marketers, since the people, clients, and prospects are not only harder to reach this way, but also because marketers are being confronted with product talk and opinions on which they have little to no control.

Customer service and word-of-mouth

In a world where clients are opinion makers, it’s clear that customer service is crucial and satisfied customers are the best source of word-of-mouth.

That’s why it’s important to listen to what’s going on in social media, to act proactively, and to participate. If you take all of this into consideration, you will immediately see where the challenges lie for email marketers: relevance and engagement.

That doesn’t merely mean making sure you provide relevant content. It also means personalization of the messages and the frequency, form, etc. of the emails, adjusted to the cross-channel online behavior of the client and prospect.

It also means more attention for sending emails based on scenarios, triggers, etc.

Data-driven email marketing is customer-centric email marketing

How does one do this? It is done with the right tools, but especially with a data-driven approach. A data-driven business is a customer-centric business.

You need data in order to achieve this. That’s why a data-driven, cross-channel email marketing strategy is essential as well. It’s the data which allows you to send relevant emails and therefore engage your subscribers.

And you’ll obtain this data through your email marketing program, follow-up actions, surveys, CRM, preference centers, web analytics, and… social media listening.

Customer-centric marketing that focuses on engagement is per definition also data-driven, cross-channel marketing. Marketing becomes CRM, and CRM becomes marketing, both increasingly social and customer-centric.